Ohio State-Michigan: 5 takeaways from the head coaches ahead of Saturday’s showdown

Credit: Jay LaPrete

Credit: Jay LaPrete

With Ohio State and Michigan set to square off Saturday for the 118th time, the head coaches of each team had a chance to meet the media to start the week.

Neither Ryan Day nor Jim Harbaugh gave away many state secrets, but they did reveal a little about their mindset and that of their teams heading into a battle of unbeatens.

One even talked about a controversial comment that followed last season’s Wolverines win in Ann Arbor.

Here are five takeaways from the coaches’ press conferences:

1. Not much is clear about the status of either team’s best two running backs.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines both went into their games last week with one of their top backs sidelined and lost the other during the game.

Whether Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams or Michigan’s Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards can play this week probably won’t be known until Saturday.

Harbaugh said he had no update on his guys Monday, and Day wasn’t even asked because he has made it clear he would prefer to wait until the team publishes an availability report on Saturday rather than talk about injuries during the week.

2. Ohio State will prepare for Corum to be in the lineup.

He is the proverbial straw that stirs the drink, and the Michigan offense struggled without him against a stout Illinois defense, but he was spotted walking at a pre-scheduled charity event Sunday and told reporters who were present he would be ok.

3. Day did acknowledge Dallan Hayden might be their best option even if the others are healthy enough to play but at less than 100 percent.

The OSU coaching staff appears to have been slow to open up to trusting Hayden even though the true freshman has looked good when given the opportunity and the other two have in and out of the lineup nearly all season.

Henderson hobbled through a game at Penn State, seeming to have a hard time finding and exploiting holes most of the game before a late touchdown burst, and Williams looked tentative at times against Northwestern a week later but remained the focal point of the attack.

Both were productive, but nether looked to be at their best, either, and Hayden brought a noticeable pop to the running game when he got a chance.

Ball security has been a constant talking point when Day is asked about Hayden, but he has not fumbled in a game.

4. Day said they might have to make a change at right guard.

Matt Jones left the last game after having a teammate knocked into the back of his right leg, and his status is uncertain for Saturday.

Enokk Vimahi replaced him at right guard, but Josh Fryar might be the choice if they need a replacement for a full game.

Fryar started at right tackle for an injured Dawand Jones against Indiana two weeks ago and played well, and Vimahi has looked solid in spot duty for Matt Jones during the season.

5. Both coaches downplayed trash talk from last year.

At his press conference, Harbaugh sidestepped a question aimed at getting him to explain saying “sometimes there are people standing on third base who think they hit a triple” after vanquishing the Buckeyes last season, but Tuesday he relented during an appearance on WSYT radio in Detroit.

“It was definitely a counterpunch by me to the comment that they’re going to hang 100 on us, etcetera,” Harbaugh told “The Stoney & Jansen” morning show in comments relayed by the Detroit News. “Kind of like a Sugar Ray Robinson [knockout], but the fact is, I think Ryan Day is a great coach. I think he is a tremendous football coach. Truth be known, that’s how I feel. You can see it week after week with his team. He’s as good a coach as there is in football.”

Day has declined to address the comment multiple times since last November and did so again Tuesday.

“Any time you’re in a high-profile game with a lot of stuff going on, there’s a lot of things said,” Day said. “But there’s a time and place to talk about that, and it’s not now.”


Michigan at Ohio State, Noon, Fox, 1410

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